Come fly with me…….. A Walk in the Countryside and flying down St. Catherine’s Hill
My mission was to enjoy a gentle but at least healthy walk along my favorite pathway commencing with passing by The Hospital of Saint Cross; Order of Noble Poverty, founded in the 10th Century. Iconic and simply wonderful.
Onward, walking (perhaps floating) along extremely muddy pathways, almost covering my boots. Slippery to say the least! I am sure I could hear ducks quaking with laughter as I almost slipped into one particularly deep, muddy puddle.
Eventually, there was a paved section leading to the Water Meadows and beyond, where I continued walking alongside the River Itchen (as I always say, Poet Keats’ favorite walk).
Amazingly tall trees coming to life as Springtime announces the re-birth of Nature. Looking up are dark roundish shapes that could be mistletoe, but actually crows’ nests, with noisy birds chasing each other around the trees. In former days a galleon had an observation point; a crow’s nest at the highest point of a ship’s mast. No accompanying crows.
The flowing river, reflections of trees in pre-Spring livery; a hint of green, bare of leaves, topmost branches reaching out to each other as if shaking hands. As the weeks move on, bare branches are replaced by canopies of leaves forming gorgeous archways. An old-fashioned phrase for such a wonderful scene is lovers’ lane.
Walking along this magic pathway during any season stimulates the imagination. Birdsong creating a chorus bordering on harmonious A robin hopping from one branch to another chirping with a hint of humor, observing a human confined to the ground, but perhaps dreaming how delightful to fly around with the robin. But perhaps not joining the crows.
Continuing my stroll, river Itchen on my left, water rushing down from a location of an old watermill and on the right, St. Catherine’s Hill.
I love climbing this hill, the copse of trees at the summit, impressive in any season. Springtime does seem to energize trees as well as myself. So tall, bordering on the majestic, massive trunks, a living being.
There is something surreal in the way they encircle one another. I always look upward viewing the sky which glints and sparkles between the branches and later, leaves. Climbing the hill is worthwhile, even if reaching the top can be a little strenuous!
There are many wooden steps to facilitate a safe climb. After a few minutes, I feel energized rather than fatigued.
And so down the other side of the hill, which is much steeper and rocky but offers spectacular views of Winchester Cathedral, The Hospital of St. Cross, Winchester College cricket fields, and more. Stunning views.
At any time of the year, the walk down is precarious, to say the least. Chalk-based (as is the river) with exceedingly uneven ground. But a little exciting! A challenge!
FLY WITH ME!
On the way down this chalky, rather wet, uneven, steep slope, I lost my footing and had not choice but to run! Running down a precarious, steep hillside is not a walk in the park! No option but to run, otherwise I would have seriously injured myself. I literally ran! Almost flying (no gentle landing as a flying dream). I knew not how far down the steep slope I would ‘fly’ but it was a really long event! When I did finally stop, I was shaking to say the least like a leaf.
I then turned around to see how far I had ‘flown’ down the hill. A long way indeed! Much to my amazement and joy, two women with babies were applauding me!!!! Clapping their hands with such enthusiasm! Now that’s good for male ego; even a shaking male!
At the bottom of the hill atop a former Victorian railway bridge is The Handlebar Café I arrived a little shaky to order a double espresso ‘rocket fuel’ and lemon drizzle cake. Just then the two women and their babies arrived at the outside ordering point and we exchanged comments! We laughed! They wondered if eventually whether I would take-off! We enjoyed more laughs. The woman who serves the coffee, whom I know as I witnessed the building of the café and have had photos published on their website, also joined in with positive humor as a recounted the experience!
I was still shaking! But managed to carry my rocket fuel and cake to an outside table overlooking the River Itchen. I was surprised that rocket fuel actually calmed my nerves, or was it the lemon drizzle sponge cake!? Then a gentle walk beside the river and looking back to take photos! An unforgettable experience! Just had to share it!